- McKINZIE VS. BOLT D’ORO REMATCH IS SET IN STONE
- SELCOURT IS AMONG SANTA MONICA HEAVYWEIGHTS
- CHAMPS HEAD MORE THAN 200 WORKERS ON SUNDAY
- CUCO TALAMANTES RECOVERING FROM SURGERY
McKINZIE, SOLOMINI VS. BOLT IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
The only sure thing in racing is there are no sure things, but as of 8 o’clock Sunday morning, count on a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby between Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie.
Bob Baffert, trainer of McKinzie, said the son of Street Sense, disqualified to second after finishing a head in front of Bolt d’Oro in last Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes, would come back in the $1 million, Grade I Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 7.
And for good measure, Baffert plans double-team Bolt d’Oro by also entering Solomini, who was second in yesterday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, as the Hall of Fame trainer seeks to add to his record seven victories in the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby, to be decided this year on May 5.
Also likely for the Santa Anita Derby, according to Santa Anita Stakes Coordinator Chris Merz, are two colts from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, Instilled Regard and Shivermetimbers. Lecomte winner Instilled Regard worked six furlongs Sunday in 1:17.80.
Meanwhile, Baffert plans to run his undefeated three-year-old sensation Justify in the Arkansas Derby on April 14.
The Santa Anita Derby, to be run for the 81st time, awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
SELCOURT EYES THIRD STRAIGHT STAKES WIN IN SANTA MONICA
Selcourt seeks her third straight added money victory in next Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes, but the four-year-old Tiz Wonderful filly will have to conquer multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods and bargain claim Skye Diamonds, among others, in the seven furlong test for fillies and mares, four and older.
John Sadler is confident the chestnut filly is up to the task.
“She’s coming up to the race beautifully,” the trainer said. “We slipped a work in on Tuesday between storms and they gave her the rare ‘B’ for breezing. I was in Ocala (at the sales) and didn’t see it, but we’re very happy.
“She ran a good third in her only previous race at seven-eighths, but she’s shown she can run well at all the sprint distances. Maybe she’ll go long down the road, but right now the sprints are all in her range.”
Selcourt won the restricted Kalookan Queen Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs by 7 ½ lengths on Jan. 14 before capturing the Grade III Las Flores by three-parts of a length at six furlongs on Feb. 18. She has never been out of the money, with three wins, a second and a third.
As for Santa Anita Handicap winner Accelerate, Sadler said, “He came out good, hasn’t done too much this week because of the off tracks, but we don’t have any real exact plan as to where we’re going with him right now.
The Santa Monica is expected to have a small but very select field, including Selcourt (Tyler Baze), multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods (Flavien Prat) and rags-to-riches claim Skye Diamonds (Tiago Pereira).
CHAMPS HEAD PLETHORA OF WORKS AT SANTA ANITA
With more rain forecast for midweek, horsemen took advantage of a typical Southern California Winter morning Sunday with 208 recorded workouts, 199 on the fast main track and nine on the training track.
Heading the list were champions Unique Bella, West Coast and Roy H, the former going four furlongs in a bullet 46 seconds, breezing, under Mike Smith for Jerry Hollendorfer, who has the April 13 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in mind for last year’s Eclipse Award winner as outstanding female sprinter.
Unique Bella’s fractional times were 22.20 and 34.40, with a five furlong gallop out of 59 flat. It was the fastest by more than three seconds of 101 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 49.28.
West Coast was reunited with a familiar work rider in Martin Garcia as he went six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.80 in company with Cat Burglar (1:13.40) for Bob Baffert, who is preparing last year’s Eclipse winner as champion three-year-old male for the Dubai World Cup on March 31. It was the fastest of 16 drills at the distance. West Coast galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24.80.
With Peter Miller’s trusted assistant of eight years Rueben Alvarado looking on, champion male sprinter of 2017 Roy H, ticketed for the Golden Shaheen in Dubai March 31, went four furlongs in 49.60 under regular rider Kent Desormeaux.
CUCO TALAMANTES RECOVERING FROM SURGERY
By: Jeremy Balan of BloodHorse
Update on Cuco’s condition: Just got great news from Cuco’s family. Surgery was successful and the tumor was removed from his colon. He’s in recovery and resting in his room.
If you’ve ever been in the Santa Anita press box, are a track employee, or a fan who likes to go to the races, odds are you’ve encountered the joy and warmth Cuco Talamantes brings to the racetrack.
You may know him as Cuco, Coco, the Patrón, or “El Destructor” (from his boxing days), but he’s been a constant presence at Santa Anita since 1971 and has also worked at Del Mar, Los Alamitos, and Hollywood Park.
Cuco has not only run the press box kitchen at Santa Anita all these years, but he’s also been an ever-present, warm companion to all the media members who have inhabited the space at the top of the Santa Anita grandstand.
This week Cuco was hospitalized and diagnosed with colon cancer. He is scheduled to undergo surgery sometime March 17. Thankfully most of his medical expenses will be covered through insurance and other funds, but the road back to good health will likely be long and difficult. As his son Gio told me this week, “He was a boxer before, but I told him he’s in for the fight of his life.”
We’re raising funds to help Cuco and his family for the long road ahead. If you can give a little or a lot, it is all greatly appreciated.
Feel free to contact me through this site or DM me on Twitter (@BH_jbalan) if you have any questions.
Link to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/cuco-Talamantes
Trainer Phil D’Amato was effusive in his praise of Geovanni Franco after the 27-year-old Mexico City native guided Fault to a facile 6 ½-length triumph in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes. “He rode a great race,” D’Amato said. “He got her in a good position on the backside and got her in the clear at the three-eighths pole, then turned her loose.” Franco has 24 wins through 47 days of the Winter Meet and ranks among the top 10 in the standings. His mounts have earned $1,121,775 . . .
Probables for next Saturday’s Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes for four-year-olds and up scheduled for 1 ½ miles on turf include Aquaphobia, Corey Nakatani, Colonist, no rider, Hayabusa, Victor Espinoza, Hootie, no rider, Itsinthepost, Tyler Baze, Play Hard to Get, Rajiv Maragh and Responsibleforlove, no rider. Super Bowl Handicap winner Aquaphobia worked four furlongs Sunday in 51.40 for trainer Robert Falcone, Jr., while Hootie went the same distance in 48.40 for Michael McCarthy and Itsinthepost five furlongs 1:01.40 for Jeff Mullins . . .
Agent Brian Beach reports Victor Espinoza will ride Mubtaahij in the Dubai World Cup, a race Victor won in 2016 aboard California Chrome, vanquishing Mubtaahij in the process. Mubtaahij worked four furlongs Sunday in 48.80 . . . Jockey Matt Garcia, who rode Muchos Besos to a head victory in Friday’s fourth race, has been suspended March 24, 25 and 29 for causing interference in the stretch . . .
Rosie Ybarra, Hostess with Mostess at Clockers’ Corner since 1978, is on her maiden trip to New Orleans for seven for a wedding and mini-vacation . . . Santa Anita will be closed for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but be open for simulcast racing Wednesday with free admission and free parking. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. Live racing resumes Thursday, March 22, with first post time at 12 noon.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, March 17)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||135||29||16||11||21%||41%||$1,782,947|
|William E. Morey||31||10||2||9||32%||68%||$410,883|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||44||9||5||8||20%||50%||$315,739|